Conclusion: There is such a wide disconnect between economic reality and what HBI presented after the close. We’ve been so negative on it, but even if this stock is down 20%, we’d sell every share we owned. HBI said it should get to ‘True Earnings Power in 2H’. That’s what concerns us most. I can make a better case for a Zero than $25.

Is it me, or was this quarter simply surreal? Seriously. For those of you short it, congratulations. It’s going to be a good day for you. But today we’ll see downgrades and capitulation, and now we have to focus on what’s next. But after going the model (several times over) we’re coming up with '12 earnings about $0.90 (37%) below the mid-point of guidance.  

We can bicker about pricing vs cost inflation all we want. But we’re beginning to get concerned about a much bigger tail risk – liquidity. That’s when the logic of looking at this name on a trough multiple on trough earnings is simply flawed.

That’s perhaps the ultimate value trap. An 8x pe on the bottom of management’s guidance suggests a $18-19 stock. But what the market will likely do if our model is right is model this on EBITDA (as it should for such a highly levered company). Assets in this space have historically traded between 3-5x EBITDA. On our 2012 numbers, 5x EBITDA gets you $3.50 per share. At 4x, you’re looking at a donut and the bondholders will be sweating it out.

Let’s look at the Majors…

1)      HBI’s credibility is blown. It was just 13 weeks ago that the company said that it mis-judged the extent to which retailers would tighten inventories. So it reset earnings expectations. Mgmt said that cotton costs are not a profit issue but more of a timing issue, and that pricing was holding and elasticity was not a problem. Then it revealed that WMT cut massive Just My Size program in favor of private label. This happened after price increases went into effect.  How is that not a problem with price elasticity?

2)      This quarter, HBI takes down 1H guidance by $0.30 due to severe price competition in the wholesale distributor channel for its Imagewear (ie screenprinting) segment.

  1. No problem with pricing/elasticity? C’mon…in gauging elasticity, you need to look at the entire portfolio. A PM can’t look at his book of 50 stocks, and say that he outperformed the market if he excludes the 15 that underperformed.
  2. This category is about 40% of Outerwear, but only 8% of total company sales. How does that add up to a $0.30 EPS hit?
  3. HBI noted that ¼ of its Imagewear sales are what it refers to as ‘highly competitive.’ That’s only $95mm. At a 20% incremental margin (which is probably too high if they are right about it being so competitive), then we get to a $0.15 earnings hit if all of it completely goes away. The only way we can get to $0.30 is if half of this business (again, at a generous 20% margin) goes away entirely. I guess that’s possible, but it’s not what they indicated.

3)      Management noted that ‘Aside from the Imagewear business, they are doing quite well.’ Huh? Excluding Imagewear they’re guiding to flat sales for the next 2 quarters. They’re ‘pleased’ with flat? Flat stinks.

4)      ‘Solidified’ 2012 pricing is baked into guidance. Wasn’t Innerwear price baked into guidance six months ago, and Imagewear competition/prices baked into guidance three months ago? Why should we believe it now?

5)      Still plan for international to reach $1bn by mid decade and for Consumer Direct to be a growth driver. In the quarter, they were +0.6% and -1.6, respectively. They don’t sound like growth engines to me.

6)      I have no way to get anywhere close to the company’s $400-500mm in free cash flow guidance in 2012.

7)      HBI gave the political answer about changes at JCP – that it’s excited about the change. They might lose a little hosiery business there, but that’s all that’s in their plan. That’s a binary outcome, imho. JCP is about a 5%-6% customer for HBI. Family dept stores = 15%. Mass channel = 50%+. Ron Johnson at JCP is going to competitively bid out each section in the stores to see which brand wants it more. JCP might get the revenue, but it will be at a lower margin. PLUS, any special product workup is going to upset Kohl’s, Target, WalMart, Sears, Macy’s, Dollar Stores, etc… This will be a domino effect with or without HBI. Also, be sure to remember that price competition at retaisl in higher end categories is often funded by discounts in more commodity categories (ie discounts on Polo at Macy’s will be paid for by Jones Apparel Group, PVH’s Dress Shirt biz, and underwear vendors like HBI).

8)      Perhaps the biggest positive is that Even the company finally used cash to retire $200mm in debt. But what’s notable here is that – if we’re right on the model – it will be better served to have more cash on hand to meet debt service to the extent that cash flow gets tight.

In the end, as noted above, we can’t  think of a single reason to own this stock as the risk reward does not start to look remotely interesting until it’s a single digit name.

Brian McGough